Terran Orbital Corporation has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tyvak International SRL, has together with its partners, achieved full Critical Design Review of the Milani spacecraft. A critical component of the Hera planetary defense mission, Milani will be the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first deep-space nanosatellite. Milani will also be the first nanosatellite ever to orbit an asteroid. Tyvak International is responsible for Milani’s design, build, and mission operations. In this exploration, Tyvak International is joined by an excellent consortium of European industries and research centers from Finland, Czech Republic, and Italy.
The world’s first test of asteroid deflection, Hera, will perform a detailed post-impact survey of the target asteroid, Dimorphos – the orbiting Moonlet in a binary asteroid system known as Didymos. NASA’s DART mission will first impact the moonlet. Following the DART impact, Hera will turn the experiment into a well-understood and repeatable planetary defense technique, utilizing new technologies from autonomous navigation around an asteroid to low gravity proximity operations. Hera will be humankind’s first probe to rendezvous with a binary asteroid system and Europe’s flagship Planetary Defender.
Milani, named after Andrea Milani, the pioneer of asteroid risk analysis who came up with the original double-spacecraft DART-Hera concept, is a companion nanosatellite of HERA, carried by the mothercraft along the journey to the asteroid, and ultimately released in its proximity. Milani’s main instrument will be the ASPECT hyperspectral imager (by VTT, Finland), combining visible and near-infrared wavelengths to survey the surface down to a maximum spatial resolution of one meter. ASPECT will sift through sunlight reflected from Dimorphos as well as its bigger companion Didymos, looking for distinctive mineral absorptions of individual asteroid boulders. Along with ASPECT, Milani’s secondary payload is called VISTA (Volatile In-Situ Thermogravimetre Analyser). The instrument (by INAF, Italy) can detect the presence of dust particles smaller than 5-10 micrometers in water and will monitor molecular contamination surrounding the satellite. Finally, laser reflectors (by INFN, Italy) will enable unprecedented gravity field measurements of the asteroid coupled with Hera’s laser range finder.